Wetherby B had felt the full force of table topping Harrogate Spa on Wednesday evening but back on home soil this evening against lowly Bedale were in confident mood of getting back into the winners enclosure. The sunny weather was holding well and despite temperatures starting to dip conditions were good for this tea time start.
Walter Skubiak and Anne Lillywhite were sorely missed at Spa but they both returned to pair up as top seeds tonight. They took on Val Dickinson and Colin Finch in the opener and were keen to impress from the start. Chomping at the bit they made a good start against a useful Bedale number one pairing. The visiting duo are current top scorers for their club this term and ensured this was a good contest. Skubiak and Lillywhite were both attacking from deep and hitting some powerful returns which ultimately proved a winning combination as they took the honours 8-4.
Regular partners Doug Harrison and Ann Jones continued at seed two and the experienced duo felt far more at home today as they kicked off against Jan Lever and Mike Draper. With her regular partner Adam Bentley absent, Draper came in for his seasonal debut to join forces with Lever who had played exceptionally well against Wetherby A recently at Castlegarth. She is a poker faced but strong competitor and Harrison needed all his craft and guile to keep the visitors at bay. Jones was backing up from a tough Saturday afternoon in the ladies second team but was oozing confidence as she battled away with some solid returns and the Wetherby couple finally ran out cosy 8-4 winners.
Captain Ian Teasdale joined up with Janine Smith who was still buzzing after enjoying herself at the social tournament earlier in the day. They took on Annabel Hosford and another veteran in Bob Sampson. Hosford was another player making her seasonal debut whilst Sampson is a regular who has played in all of Bedales seven league fixtures this term. He is a wise old owl with a useful short game and a lovely disguised forehand which creates panic for opposing pairs. This proved a good contest with Teasdale serving well and launching a number of bombs high into enemy territory. With Smith marauding along the net it made for some fascinating tennis before eventually honours were even at 6-6.
As round two began Wetherby led 22-14 with Harrison and Jones trying to lower the colours of Dickinson and Finch. Dickinson is a real character and has obviously played at a good standard in her prime. She has strong wrists and a powerful forehand which produced a number of crucial winning points to keep Bedale in the tie. Harrison and Jones were enjoying the battle of wits and eventually a 6-6 draw was a fair reflection of another interesting rubber. Teasdale and Smith now took on Lever and Draper and once again there was little to separate the pairs. All of the quartet produced moments of magic but neither side could ultimately control proceedings with another 6-6 tie been the eventual outcome. With the match remaining close it was left to Skubiak and Lillywhite to take the bull by the horns and turn up the tempo as they eased through the gears. They looked confident from the outset and followed up their first round form by capitalising and exploiting the weakness Hosford and Sampson showed. It proved to be a tough introduction for a beleaguered Hosford as Lillywhite dominated in the battle of the females whist Skubiak kept Sampson on a short leash. Wetherby dominated from start to finish and a very impressive 10-2 success meant they went into the final round 44-28 ahead and now extremely confident of victory.
Dickenson and Finch confirmed their status as the top performing visiting pair as they had too much class to defeat a battle hardened Teasdale and Smith. However despite the home pairs 4-8 reverse it was a useful tally to add into the pot and kept the hosts well in command. Harrison and Jones felt the backlash from Hosford and Sampson who were determined to put aside the previous rounds score behind them. They finally found their form and with both players relaxed and exploiting the open courts to full effect, they had the better of the early skirmishes. There was no way Jones was going down without a fight of course and she rallied to keep the rubber close. Harrison and Sampson were enjoying their duel but it was Bedale who ran out narrow 5-7 victors on this occasion.
Any chance of a unexpected fightback had long disappeared and Skubiak and Lillywhite ensured they were truly extinguished with another masterclass performance against Lever and Draper. The visitors were never at the races as the Wetherby couple set about dismantling their bewildered opponents with some truly breathtaking and efficient tennis. Lillywhite, who is always a big hitter, increased the tempo and working some wonderful angles produced some superb winners whilst not to be outdone Skubiak matched those efforts and added a tough of guile with some cross court drop shots of real quality. An 11-1 victory was the icing on the cake for Wetherby who finally produced a winning margin of 64-44.
A fourth win of the season takes them onto eight points and up to third in the table behind Wetherby A and puts them in a good position to attack the right end of the table after a few seasons spent battling against relegation.
Well done to all and no one will begrudge Skubiak and Lillywhite the man of the match honours following a very impressive 29 point haul tonight.
The team now take a welcome break before a derby fixture with the A side on June 22.